Designer Interview | Meet Sustainable Eco Bags: Wicker Wings with Belinda & James

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Wicker Wings, London 2015

INSPIRATION THROUGH CRAFTSMANSHIP

How often do start-ups when setting up a new project, enrolling on a new business journey are thinking of combining it with a sustainable touch/meaning? Sadly not often and not from the very inception of the project. When I’ve first got in touch with Belinda and James who had contacted me on Twitter I was surprised to find out that the idea of their business project came first from their desire to share, to turn a purchase of every product they sell on their site into a bag full of helping tools for children… Their social mission is unique because it makes a difference.

Let’s hear from Belinda and James, more details about: what makes their mission stand out and why have they decided to sew their mission background with the idea of creating stylish accessories:

Q: How have you chosen to set up a handbags-dedicated project and why?

We are a brother and sister team. The inspiration to set up Wicker Wings came from our family roots. Over 32 years ago, our parents moved to the UK, leaving China to give their family a better start in life, especially with regards to education. Our parents would work hard in the UK, and would regularly send money home to help the local school in their small village. In the meantime we’ve discovered a curious fact that our grandmother used to weave wicker baskets for a living in China. This greatly inspired us and we’ve decided to tie the two together Wicker Wings and our social mission.

After a year of research, we’ve come up with an idea of a beautiful accessory/product, which would represent both our mission and its family roots: this is how our unique wicker bag came to live. Below are a few snapshots:

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Wicker Wings, Liverpool 2015

 

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Wicker Wings, Liverpool 2015

 

The Bag for Bag mission #bagforbagmission is simple. For every bag purchased, we donate a bag that contains reading books and a note, which is optionally written by the customer. One of the things we want to achieve is to make giving back a little more personal, engaging and interactive. The note would be written in an attempt to inspire children. The idea of leaving the note was driven by the attempt of sharing personalized messages, words and advices which are able to lift the moods and fuel the hopes of those who would receive them: children living and hoping thousands of miles away in rural Asia.

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Bag for Bag Mission in Action, Rural China – 2015

 

Q: Tell us a bit more about your mission, the achievements you’ve been most proud of so far:

As a family we were brought up thinking that education was the stepping-stone for a brighter future. Our parents would always encourage us to study hard, go to university and get a good job. Wouldn’t it be great if we could give some of that opportunity to those less fortunate than us? And what greater place to start than in rural Asia, where our ancestors lived and where our family tree began? We searched for the perfect non-profit organisation to work with, so when we found The Library Project we knew they were a perfect fit. The Library Project donates books to under-financed rural schools in Asia. One of the major social issues in countries like China, is that the large cities dominate and over-shadow the rural areas: this results in rural schools being largely neglected. As a result there’re insufficient resources such as books and stationery.

We launched our project in October 2014, just shortly after we’ve already been able to ship our first bag drops: that we could qualify as our biggest achievement. We wanted to create a one-for-one business, which allowed our amazing customers the chance to interact with the people they are helping on a personal level. The pictures we received moved us in a way we cannot explain, it showed us that together we really did make a difference and with more love and support we can make an even bigger impact.

Among recent achievements we’d count our project being awarded by @Jacqueline_Gold within her campaign WoW, Women on Wednesday, aiming to support women in business:

 

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@Jacqueline_Gold Women in Business Award

 

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@Jacqueline_Gold Women in Business Award

 

Q: why would you think your handbags would bear the unique touch amongst your target audience?

We would typically describe our consumer as 18-30 fashion-conscious young ladies, creative and inspirational characters, ready to go an extra mile for an idea they’d either believe in or support and have a genuine interest in learning more about the brand, the project and the product.

Among our customers there are those who believe in our mission and want to genuinely contribute, there’re also those who have initially been attracted by the beauty and quality of our handbags. The handbags are made of high quality rattan, which makes their aesthetics unique and tempting for any fashionista’s wardrobe.

We’re aiming to deliver both: a unique product benefiting our social mission from its mere purchase, so that we’re able to give/share something back to those in need.

 

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Bag for Bag Mission in Action, Rural China, 2015

 

Q: How would you make yourselves heard to help spread the word about your craftsmanship and your mission?

All our handbags are lovingly handmade, every single strand of rattan is intricately hand-woven to add a unique touch to our handbags, this is what makes us stand out.

We’re spreading the word and passion about our craftsmanship through bloggers, our new and loyal customers as well as boutiques we’re collaborating with. We’d like more and more people to get to love our bags through our mission by getting to know the brand behind those beautiful bags which are our true ‘project Ambassadors’. We have a beautiful story and a wonderful social mission. We have always wanted to create a company with meaning and we think that we are doing just that through Wicker Wings.

Q: As a Fairwell note, what would you like to share with our readers?

 

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A note to Bagstowear Readers from Wicker Wings

 

Here we go guys, these were Wicker Wings with us – many thanks for their time and for making us part of this interview journey.

Among plenty – there’s surely one major take-away for me: be inspired and follow your true passion: that’s what gets easily shared simply because it’s easily admirable.

Cheers and speak soon x

 

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